We like to think that we’re all so smart and rational. We study the facts. Do careful analysis. Construct decision trees. Build matrices that reveal the ROI on this option and that.
Then we make a decision based on pure intellect. Right?
Wrong. Researchers have shown over and over again that emotions are not only an important part of decision-making, but are critical to the process. In fact, one neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio, did research showing that brain-injured patients who had experienced damage to the part of the brain where emotion is generated could no longer make decisions.
Advertisers have long understood that to increase market share, it’s important for a message to create an emotional link in the viewer. Emotion-based ad campaigns are almost twice as likely to generate large profit gains than rational ones. That’s why the Hallmark Cards commercials are sentimental — I admit to crying through them when I was pregnant!
Of course sentiment is only one emotion. Effective ads can be shocking, funny, sad, happy or elicit a host of other feelings. The point is that they must connect.
In business, nothing connects better and creates more authentic bonds among people than true stories. Whether you want to engender loyalty among employees, instill team pride, build a great community reputation or win long-term repeat business from your customers, telling stories about real people and real events draws people together and illustrates principles better than anything else that you can do.
Stories show that you’re authentic. That you’re human. That you relate to people’s basic needs, and that you understand and care about them.
But you’ve first got to have a bigger reason for existing than making a buck. If your only purpose is to make a dollar, don’t bother. No story can fix that.
Photo: “Story Road” from umjanedoan